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Radka Buzkova fosters teamwork in individual sport

Radka+Buzkova+lands+after+a+serve+in+a+doubles+match+against+University+of+Nevada%2C+Las+Vegas+in+Laramie%2C+Wyoming%2C+April+8.+The+Rams+lost+4-3.
Collegian | Dylan Heinrich
Radka Buzkova lands after a serve in a doubles match against University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Laramie, Wyoming, April 8. The Rams lost 4-3.

Teamwork lies in unlikely places.

One example is the Division I tennis team on Colorado State’s campus, led by coach Mai-Ly Tran.

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Tennis, a sport played one-on-one or two-on-two, is not the first place teamwork seems essential. Nonetheless, star CSU tennis player Radka Buzkova is a prime example of why it is.

“(Buzkova) is such a major part of the team environment,” first-year Logan Voeks said. “She is one of the most influential people (on the team). She’s always composed but at the same time cheering on teammates and supporting them. … She’s amazing, and honestly, we couldn’t ask for a better upperclassman.”

Buzkova is a graduate student from the Czech Republic who was ranked in the top five in her home country, climbing up to No. 2 while she was a junior player.

For her first and second years of collegiate tennis, she played at FAU but decided to transfer to CSU in 2021.

That decision paid off. She became the first Ram to be given All-Mountain West honors in both doubles and singles in consecutive seasons. She also achieved the highest regional ranking the CSU tennis program has ever seen at fifth for singles and second for doubles.

Her record-breaking 2022-23 season was also paired with her win of Intercollegiate Tennis Association regionals with teammate Matea Mihaljevic in doubles, becoming the first pair to qualify for ITA nationals in the 2021-22 season.

“I wanted to explore different things, and I knew that there was something better out there,” Buzkova said. “I am very happy with my decisions and found my second home.”

As Buzkova continues to play, it is apparent how successful her college career has been thus far, but she still has major goals for her time remaining at CSU.

“The goal is always to win (the) conference,” Buzkova said. “Head coach (Tran) asked me this season if I wanted to make it to individual nationals, but I would always love for the team to win (the) conference. I would love to experience that.”

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Her excitement for the whole team shines through and demonstrates how much she values those she plays with.

“It’s a pretty individualistic sport, but being in college, the team always comes first, and that’s one of our values,” Buzkova said. “We always put the team first and never think about our individual success.”

Tran noted how Buzkova contributes to the team in more ways than just bringing home titles and breaking records.

“Radka is undoubtedly one of our top players who has been very consistent for us,” Tran said. “What’s really nice is that we can always rely on her.”

Tran is focusing on building momentum from the team’s last game of the fall season against San Diego State, where the team walked away with three titles.

“We really gained some momentum this year, especially with such a veteran class,” Tran said. “They’ve really continued to build the culture, so we feel good about our team this year. And we definitely ended on a high note. It was nice to play outside on the West Coast, and everybody got a chance to play.”

The success of Buzkova and the team in the past few years has garnered the attention of a top-100 recruit, Paisha Douglas, who signed her letter of intent to CSU last month.

“We’re extremely excited,” Tran said. “(Douglas) is a well-rounded person and player. Obviously, we saw her tennis first, but when she came on the visit, I think we were really happy to get to know her as a person.”

Teamwork in an individual sport like tennis can be hard to find, but the tennis team at CSU does it with ease. Players like Buzkova lead by example, inspiring players like Voeks, who won bronze in singles at the SDSU Fall Classic II.

Buzkova sat out singles at the SDSU Fall Classic II due to an injury but will focus on recuperating for the spring season, working toward the team’s 11 upcoming home games before the Mountain West championships. 

Buzkova is a pillar of the team, and a love for the sport still grows within her even though she’s been playing for most of her life.

“Going through five years of college athletics, sometimes it’s hard to keep your love for the game, … but I still love the game,” Buzkova said. “I would like to stay around tennis, maybe coaching. I don’t think I would like to play professionally, but I would like to be able to spread the knowledge I have.”

Reach Liv Sewell at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Liv_sewell22.

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